WORDS, MU­SIC

AND PIC­TURES Trinity stu­dents write po­etry book Af­ter­noon tea for two with nov­el­ists

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - BOOKS -

SOME­TIMES the area that oc­cu­pies the space be­tween the be­gin­ning and the end of a jour­ney – whether lit­eral or metaphor­i­cal – can prove the most fruit­ful in terms of in­spi­ra­tion and cre­ativ­ity.

For York-based poet and Leeds Trinity Uni­ver­sity cre­ative writ­ing pro­fes­sor Oz Hard­wick that seems to have been the case for his lat­est col­lec­tion of po­etry The Ring­mas­ter’s Ap­pren­tice.

“It’s very much about be­ing be­tween places, a theme I have been writ­ing about over the past few years,” he says. “Maybe be­cause I am mid­dleaged now, there is that feel­ing of not be­ing quite in one place or an­other. It’s also about not be­ing quite in con­trol of things. That is what the ti­tle poem is re­ally about.”

An evoca­tive ac­count of a small cir­cus ar­riv­ing in town, the poem poignantly fo­cuses on the pre­car­i­ous and lonely ex­is­tence of the ring­mas­ter’s ap­pren­tice as ‘she paces the perime­ter of her si­lent cir­cle/ to no ap­plause, no cheers, no roars,/no brassy fan­fare or cym­bals’ clash…’ and then ‘takes her place,/fac­ing her au­di­ence of one’. It was in­spired, says Hard­wick, by the kind of cir­cuses that would turn up in the lo­cal park dur­ing his child­hood.

“It was an ex­cit­ing time when the cir­cus came – the smells, the an­tic­i­pa­tion and so on. I cer­tainly haven’t been to one for decades but it is still a mem­ory that sticks in my mind.”

Born and brought up in Ply­mouth, Hard­wick has lived in York for the past 25 years and has found the city to be a rich source of in­spi­ra­tion for his po­etry. “Living in a me­dieval city I find con­stantly ex­cit­ing – I am in dia­logue with the past all the time.”

Even the most mun­dane ac­tiv­i­ties, such as com­mut­ing from home to work can also reap its re­wards. “I get a train from York to Leeds ev­ery day so it gives me time to think about things and there is also a rhythm go­ing on,” says Hard­wick, who al­ways has a note­book with him.

“You glimpse things from a train win­dow – there are lit­tle images I have tucked away and things come out of that.” One of the po­ems in the col­lec­tion, A Train and a Fox, is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of just such a mo­men­tary en­counter – ‘our eyes meet/ and, be­tween a bland train and an un­con­cerned fox,/ hangs more po­etry than I will ever write.’

Hard­wick is also a mu­si­cian and this comes through in his work, not only in some of the ref­er­ences but in the mu­si­cal­ity of his po­ems.

There is a lovely comic poem, Elvis Lives Next Door, in which the now el­derly, white-haired king of rock ‘n’ roll ‘sports a neat goa­tee/ wears loose trousers in the gar­den’ and is a regular at the lo­cal pub where ‘once, af­ter a cou­ple of Guin­nesses,’/he got up for the karaoke,/swiv­el­ling his re­place­ment hip/as he hollered Jail­house Rock,/ amazed us all.’

There is also an achingly mov­ing poem about Michael Jack­son, en­ti­tled Bad and writ­ten af­ter the singer’s death, that pon­ders a news­pa­per pho­to­graph of ‘a young boy,/maybe twelve, maybe younger,/ big eyes, black skinned,/be­fore STU­DENTS at Leeds Trinity Uni­ver­sity are cel­e­brat­ing their first book re­lease.

MA Cre­ative Writ­ing stu­dents Gill Lam­bert, Maria Pre­ston and Hannah Stone are pub­lish­ing their first book called An Af­ter­Dinner’s Sleep. The col­lec­tion of di­verse po­ems have been de­scribed as ‘funny, wist­ful and mov­ing’ by Leeds au­thor and poet, Mark Con­nors. The book was re­leased ear­lier this month through award-win­ning pub­lish­ers Indigo Dreams. AS part of the Hud­der­s­field Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val, you could spend an af­ter­noon with two nov­el­ists – a TV writer and a co­me­dian.

David Nobbs has writ­ten books about Ken­neth Wil­liams and Les Daw­son and was cre­ator of The Fall and Rise of Regi­nald Per­rin. While co­me­dian He­len Led­erer is an ac­tor, colum­nist and nov­el­ist.

You can see them both at Lit­er­ary Af­ter­noon Tea on March 8 at Fixby Hall. For tick­ets visit www.lbt.org.

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ME­DIEVAL CITY:

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